Wednesday, February 24, 2016

'Mazing Man #1 (1987)

'Mazing Man #1 (January, 1987)
Writer - Bob Rozakis
Penciller - Stephen DeStefano
Inker - Karl Kesel
Colorist - Nanci Hoolahan
Letterer - Bob Lappan
Editor - Bob Gold
Cover Price: $0.75

What is 'Mazing Man?  Well, he is a pint-sized delusional do-gooder, who often occupies the quarter-bins of many a local comics and books establishment.  My history with the character is brief, however this is a series I always keep my eye out for when trawling the bins.  I remember learning several years back that issue #12 of this series features an amazing cover by Frank Miller depicting 'Mazing Man, Dark Knight Returns Batman, and Carrie Kelly Robin all jumping into action.  I have yet to see this comic book in person, however, it is always on my radar.

When DC Comics started their DCYou initiative last summer (2015), featuring such offbeat titles as Bizarro, Prez, and Bat-Mite, I almost expected to hear an announcement about a 'Mazing Man re-imagining.  Sadly, it was not to be.  So, are his initial exploits worth your time?  Let's find out.


In the first of this issue's two stories, we join Denton the Writer who looks like a dog and his best friend 'Mazing Man (Maze for short).  Denton provides the narration for the goings on here, and it's really quite entertaining... he says 'Mazing Man thinks he's a superhero.  'Mazing Man's costume consists of a gold almost Galactus-style helmet, a golden cape, and he naturally wears his polka-dot boxer shorts on the outside of his suit.

As they enter a neighborhood park, Maze spies a toddler about to put a cigarette butt in his mouth.  Maze pounces into action, and saves the child.  A nearby gaggle of housewives, including the mother of the almost-butt-eater, all patronize Maze for his heroic act.  They talk him up, much to the surprise of an uninitiated housewife who is not sure what to make of Maze.  They clue her in that he is the "neighborhood looney-tune" who "runs around doing good deeds".

Is this suggestive?
I feel like this is suggestive...
No?  Just me?
Continuing on, Maze and Denton encounter a "young felon" who is attempting to steal a watch.  Maze stands in front of the young man to halt his escape.  The man trips over our hero, and the two roll and tumble into a nearby garbage can.  Local law enforcement, Sergeant Muldavey is present and arrests the young thief.  Pulling Denton aside, Sarge comically expresses concern that 'Mazing Man is perhaps a bit too crazy to be out in public.  Denton questions Muldavey's own sanity by informing him that he is in fact speaking to a dog.

As they walk away, Denton tries to have something of a heart to heart with 'Mazing Man.  He tries to bring him back to reality by telling him that everyone around him thinks he's crazy.  Maze isn't hearing it... he says the people have the right to believe whatever they want about him.  He won't let that change who he is, because, after all... it's his job.

As they continue, Maze catches a glimpse of that same almost-butt-eating child sitting in the street, directly in front of an oncoming truck.  Against Denton's advice, Maze heads straight to the child... saving the boy in the very nick of time.  Denton can now see that 'Mazing Man truly is a hero.

Guido oozes machismo
... and hair grease.

Our second tale begins with Denton and Maze arriving back at their brownstone apartment building for the late afternoon.  We meet Mrs. Costinas, who much to their surprise greets them with two grunts this fine day, which they take as a sign of her becoming friendlier.  Inside we meet their downstairs neighbor, Guido Antonio Garibaldi who suffers from the incurable disease: terminal macho.

Upstairs we run into Denton's human step-sister, Katherine Patricia (K.P. for short) who is a dental receptionist, a recent divorcee, and acts as something of a mother to Maze and the dog-faced Writer.  She's all dressed up for a date.  Denton tells her that he and Maze also have plans that evening, to dine with their friends Eddie and Brenda Valentine.

Over at the Valentine's, Brenda is none to pleased to find out she is expected to cook for the boys.  The two quarrel, and Brenda tries to call Denton to cancel their plans.  There's no answer, so she knows they're stuck.  She asks Eddie how they ever got involved with 'Mazing Man, and we are headed for a flashback.

During Eddie's first day as Assistant Bank Manager, he arranged it so his friend Denton would send someone in to open an account.  This would make him look good to Mr. Vanderplatz, his boss.  Unknown to Eddie, Denton would be sending 'Mazing Man.  Eddie asks how he knows Denton, and it is revealed they met in the Psychiatric Ward in the hospital.  Maze thinks it was "on a couch somewhere".  Vanderplatz checks up on their encounter, finds it all going swimmingly, and then trips over Maze's cape.

Back in the present, the Valentines argue about sneakers in the sink, and ultimately wind up chasing each other around before winding up atop one another.  They embrace and kiss, until there's an unfortunate (though expected) ringing at the door.  Maze and Denton have arrived, and luckily for the Valentines, they have brought a bucket of chicken with them.  The four sit down to dine, and we are [out].


Such a strange and fun issue.  I honestly never would have grabbed a single issue of this book if I didn't know about the Frank Miller cover later on.  I figured, it's only 12 issues (with a couple of "specials") so why not just grab the lot of 'em?  I'm glad I did, as this was some pretty good stuff.

Humor comics can be pretty hit or miss... this one does have a miss here and there, however the amount of hits is well worth at least a flip through.  The writing is a lot of fun, and I was surprised by the amount of heart the characters had (especially Maze himself).  The art is a great blend of cartoony and comic booky.  Not so comic booky that the cartoony aspects look out of place, and not too cartoony to make the book look like a cheap cartoon adaptation.  It's like a cartoon done in house style, if that makes any sense.

Definitely worth snagging if you come across it on the cheap.  This to my knowledge has not been collected, and it is not available digitally... so we're talking single issues only here.  Grab 'em if you see 'em, won't cost you much... and they're great fun.


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